Friday, April 8, 2016
Autism Awareness Month and Leadership?
WHAT'S IT LIKE?
I tell people, all the time, I love my son but I hate Autism. The simplest way to describe it, is imagine a small toddled with a limited vocabulary that is prone to frequent tantrums. Now increase the frequency of normal toddler issues by a factor of 100. That gives you a pretty good idea of a typical day caring for my son. Those of you with children on the Autism spectrum look at that "100" and are nodding your head in agreement. Those of you without an autistic child had the knee-jerk reaction "Oh come on Mike your exaggerating." It's okay, I am used to people without regular exposure to autism, telling me things like that. I don't take offense.
WHAT CAUSES AUTISM?
That is the billion dollar question. There seem to be a thousand different factors that can cause your child to be autistic, Big surprise, preemies have a higher incidence of autism. Boys have a higher incidence of autism. children with parents over the age of 30 have a higher incidence of autism. If you have a parent that was diagnosed as "hyper active" as a child. Guess, what, we checked off each one of those boxes and there are plenty more.
WHAT'S ALL THIS ABOUT VACCINATIONS?
I have many good friends that speak out about the dangers of vaccinations and there are MANY scientists and doctors that think of my friends as superstitious, angry people looking to assess blame Here is my opinion on vaccinations. Both of my children are fully vaccinated. My daughter is not Autistic and my son is. In my mind, that does NOT equate to vaccinations creating a 50% likelihood of autism. Here is what I ask the medical and scientific community. Your are CERTAIN, that vaccinations in no way cause autism and you have thousands on research studies to show that back your belief. What would happen if you did research with the idea that certain vaccines in certain people could be a catalyst for autism? That is all I am asking, consider the possibility.
I don't want to eradicate vaccines. I wan't to assure that they do NO HARM.
OKAY MIKE TIME TO RELATE THIS TO BUSINESS
My son's autism has taught me a great many things that help in the business world.
Lesson number one: just because you don't understand someone doesn't mean what they have to say isn't important, When was the last time you really tried to better understand someone, particularly if their opinion is different than yours?
Lesson number two: "Be kind, everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about." That sales meeting you had today, the one with the man in the corner that looks like he is about to pass out asleep? Maybe he was up at 2 a.m. with his autistic son who could not go back to sleep until 6 a.m, a dose of sympathy can be a great bonding opportunity in business transaction.
Lesson number three: Patience is not only a virtue, it is absolutely critical to leadership. If someone does it wrong the first time, how much responsibility are you taking to correct and help that person become better?
Lesson number four: You are much stronger than you think. The world is fond of throwing a great deal at us. Very rarely do these things kill us or do irreparable harm. Worry less and smile more. My wife and I have the mantra "if you don't laugh, you'll cry." Try this the next time something "bad" happens. It helps, a great deal.
MY CALL TO ACTION TODAY
Statistically speaking, each of you has someone in your family or circle of friends, with a child with autism, offer to help. Offer to watch that child for them for a few hours so they can go out on a date like a regular couple. Offer to run an errand for them so they can take a nap. Offer to drive their other children to an event so those children don't feel left out. Offer to meet them for a drink after work one day and let them vent about life. It is good to have someone listen to you.
Thank you all for taking the time to read this today. I am happy to discuss autism, as well as my regular topics of sales, leadership, public speaking and LinkedIn with each and everyone of you.